On December 2, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry announced that the OCC will consider applications from financial technology ("fintech") companies to become special purpose national banks.
During remarks at the Georgetown University Law Center, the Comptroller described several reasons for considering special purpose national bank charters. First, the Comptroller believes it is in the public interest, stating that "[f]intech companies hold great potential to expand financial inclusion, empower consumers, and help families and businesses take more control of their financial matters." Second, the Comptroller explained that fintech companies should have the choice to become national banks if they wish to do so, and that the OCC's consideration of fintech charter applications does not create a requirement to seek a charter. Third, the Comptroller noted that having a clear process and criteria for fintechs to become national banks ensures that companies that receive charters have a reasonable chance of success, appropriate risk management, effective consumer protection, and strong capital and liquidity.
The OCC also published a paper discussing the issues related to the agency's consideration of charter applications from fintech companies. Comments on the paper, which describes the chartering process, may be submitted through January 15, 2017.